NORMS, NARRATIVES AND IDENTITIES: TESTING THE EFFECT OF NARRATIVE FORM AND SOCIAL NORM DEVELOPMENT ON INDIVIDUALS’ ATTITUDES, BELIEFS, AND BEHAVIOURS

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There is now a substantial body of evidence documenting significant impacts of narrative communication on individual behaviour (DellaVigna and La Ferrara 2015; La Ferrara 2016). However, as increasing levels of public resources are invested in the policy tool, it is important to understand the basic pathways through which they work.

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BACKGROUND

The use of mass narrative communication such as soap operas and films for social and developmental purposes has proliferated in the last five decades.  The examples are legion and many have been experimentally or quasi-experimentally evaluated.  The question this research project asks is: is mass narrative communication simply a vehicle for disseminating useful information, or do narrative and social channels contribute to behavioural changes observed?

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THE STRATEGY

To investigate this research question, we propose to conduct an experiment to explore two broad questions:

1.    Whether information packaged in the form of a narrative is more efficiently consumed and therefore leads to changes in behaviour.

2.    Whether information consumed alongside others creates shared expectations of new social norms that shift behaviour.

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We investigate these questions in the context of urban Kenya, where we will deliver video messages to 200 mothers of young babies containing information on the benefits of exclusive breastfeeding.The intervention will be designed to shift beliefs and implicit attitudes toward breastfeeding, and ultimately to change behaviours. We will develop the message based on WHO guidelines in consultation with local experts.

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TIME-LINE

January 2019-December 2019

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RESEARCH TEAM

James Walsh (University of Oxford)

Sonja Vogt (University of Bern)

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